Nicks missed almost all of last season due to a recurring MRSA infection, which limited him to just two games. In his absence, the Buccaneers rotated Gabe Carimi, Ted Larsen, Jeremy Zuttah and Jamon Meredith at left guard but failed to get remotely adequate production at the position. With Davin Joseph's shocking decline at right guard the Bucs simply could not open holes for its running backs, although pass protection was generally adequate.
Nicks' future still isn't secure, however. Nicks will have to play through pain for the rest of his career due to a 2012 plantar plate injury, and that injury could keep him out of football indefinitely. While Nicks will undoubtedly try to play through pain, there's no guarantee he'll be able to do so.
With Nicks' future in doubt, Davin Joseph's play falling off a cliff and Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith both being free agents, the Buccaneers should make finding at least one starting caliber offensive guard a priority this offseason.
In addition, it seems that Doug Martin is also on track in his rehab after ending the season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, according to Buccaneers.com. Martin says that he should be ready to practice when the Buccaneers hold their first offseason practices on April 7.
Having both Nicks and Martin back should do wonders for a Buccaneers offense that struggled in all aspects. The Bucs ranked last in total yards and 30th in total points last season. They were ranked in the bottom ten of every offensive statistical category, except interceptions. The lack of a competent running game and injuries to Mike Williams, Carl Nicks and Doug Martin were significant contributors to that ugly performance.